Inside Bay Towel Linen and Uniform Rental's Search for an Operations Software

Nick Dobrez

Nick Dobrez | February 27th, 2019


One of the best things about being a part of the marketing team at Spindle, is I get the opportunity to travel to our partners' operations and share their success stories with the rest of the world.  

This past week I traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin, and met with Dave Jerrett (COO) and Shane Suda (Plant Manager) of Bay Towel Linen and Uniform Rental to discuss how their operations have changed since installing Spindle. 

Green Bay Snow(Green Bay's snow management was incredible. After getting hit with a couple feet of snow, the roads were in great shape. Can't say the same about their bus stops!)

Dober, Spindle’s parent company, developed a partnership with Bay Towel when we were selling detergents on the washfloor. In 2007, Dober shifted focus from selling detergent to selling software. Although the partnership had evolved into friendship, Dave didn’t let this cloud his judgment and the business realities he was faced with when considering the investment into an operations management software.  

The Concerns Bay Towel Had with Installing a Productivity Software

Bay Towel’s management team had a lot of internal discussions about the impact a solution like Spindle might have on their organization. In all honesty, they’re very similar to what we hear a lot from prospective customers: 

  • Do they currently have the bandwidth to make this initiative successful amidst all the other ongoing projects? 
  • Bay Towel was told they should expect a return on their investment in under seven months. They wondered if the management team they had in place had the skills necessary to utilize Spindle well enough to receive this ROI. 
  • How will this affect their culture? Will the production employees embrace the new technology, or will they look at it like ‘big brother is watching me’? 

Given These Concerns, What Eventually Led Bay Towel to Install Spindle?

In 2014, Bay Towel expanded their primary production facility to allow their operations to continue to grow their business. As they grew, they experienced growing pains along with it.

“Our PPOH metric was trending in the wrong direction, and we were struggling to capture accurate and timely production data,” Dave Jerrett, COO

When asked Shane (Plant Manager) why now was the right time for Spindle, he responded with a simple, “It’s all about timing.”  

The rising labor costs to operate their businesscombined with the turnover Bay Towel had in recent years with the management team, meant they finally felt they were ready to fully embrace Spindle. 

In the fall of 2018, Bay Towel made the decision to install Spindle.

Instant Wins

Bay Towel didn’t have to wait long after installation to start seeing results.

Spindle Software(Bay Towel watched their linen productivity shoot up ~13% in their first few weeks with Spindle)  

“With regards to PPOH, we saw the most immediate impact in linen. Linen's productivity went up 13% in the first few weeks after the screens were up.” - Shane Suda, Plant Manager

The visual dashboards help employees actually see their numbers in real-time compared to their standards, as opposed to waiting until the next day. Just by engaging the employees and giving them accurate and instant feedback, the plant saw this area rise 13%! 

We’ve found most employees want to succeed and do well. So, when they receive immediate feedback that they are starting to fall behind their standards, they can quickly adjust and catch back up, minimizing the amount of time they aren’t performing well. 

After walking the floor, I met Katie, who was the lead in the garment area. It turns out that linen wasn’t the only area that quickly had results. While manually collecting counts in garments, the overall productivity was showing between 90-95%, but the output from the area wasn’t matching these numbers. As they dug into this trend, they couldn’t pinpoint what the actual problem was. After installing Spindle, Katie quickly identified that the actual productivity was 65%!  

Initially, Katie recalled not trusting Spindle’s data; but after putting one of their strongest employees in garments and watching her consistently be above standards, Katie truly began to see the value Spindle could bring to help her manage her team.  

increase Garment productivity(You can see on the monitor all 10 of Katie's team members are in the green. The best part about this photo is it isn't staged!)

Before Spindle, this data would manually be reported and then entered into the system for the management team to look at the next day. After Spindle, the exposure to human error had been limited to ensuring the team was properly logged in and the data was now accessible that very minute.

Shane estimated the automated data collection of Spindle alone saved the team 2 hours a day of manually collecting data from around the plant.

Long Term Successes

Circling back to Bay Towel’s perception of Spindle before they installed it, I was curious what they thought, now that they had it installed for a handful of months. While they originally thought Spindle would hurt their culture, it turns out it not only became a vital part of it, but helped to enhance it as well.  

At first, I didn’t know if they were just telling me what I wanted to hear; but as I walked the plant, it quickly became apparent that they truly had integrated Spindle into their culture:  

  • Incorporated into Rhythms: Spindle’s reports are printed and displayed on their communication boards throughout the plant, showcasing the entire teams performance for the past day, month, and year. The leads review the numbers with their team’s, praising the employees for any recent wins or identifying areas for growth. The team mentioned to me that this helps the leads have more open and honest communication with the production employees. In return, they have a more engaged workforce that trusts their leadership. 

Communication Board

(Bay Towel's Communication Board)

  • Login Compliance: As Shane and I were discussing the facility overview page, an alert showed an employee was still logged into lunch. Without skipping a beat, Shane radioed Efrain (the lead for this employee’s area) about the excessive break, and he immediately addressed the issue. Their commitment to accurate data for decision making was evident, and accountability on login compliance is a good indicator of a plant’s cultural commitment to improving their plant productivity.  

Examples like these illustrate why Bay Towel has had such tremendous success with Spindle. 

The Overall Impact of Spindle

While Spindle provided Bay Towel the initial boost in productivity just by installing visual dashboards and giving employees real-time feedback, it was Bay Towel’s ability to embrace the digital revolution and fully engage with Spindle that led to the incredible impact on their P&L statement. 

Since incorporating Spindle into their culture, Bay Towel’s PPOH has climbed ~6% in 4 months! I asked Shane, in terms of your ROI, what does this mean? 

“In dollars, this equates to an ROI of 19 weeks or roughly 4.75 months. Spindle was installed in late October, so I am anticipating it ‘being paid for’ in the next 4 to 6 weeks.”  

Thank You Bay Towel

I want to extend a thank you to the entire Bay Towel team - especially Dave, Shane, Katie, and Efrain - for taking the time to sharyour experiences with me. Bay Towel was truly a special place and made my stay as a Bears fan in Green Bay extremely enjoyable.